Identity Theft Feed

Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash The biggest recent scam story had nothing to do with taxes. It was the confession of a financial advice journalist of how she fell for an elaborate con job that ended with her putting $50,000 in cash in a box and handing it to a stranger. The crooks kicked off that scam by calling the writer, recounting enough of her personal information to get her hooked. It was all downhill from there, with an outrageous combination of purported government agencies, including a CIA impersonator. IRS security still suspect: We're all told to protect our... Read more →


Crooks know you're anxiously awaiting your tax refund. That's why this filing season they're again impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents. The latest refund scam is an email or text about your tax refund or tax refund e-statement. In both cases, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the messages are efforts to steal your identity and money. As in previous incarnations, these latest fake IRS messages encourage recipients to click a link, supposedly to "check on your tax refund e-statement," or "fill out a form to get your refund." The FTC provided the image below of one of these fake IRS... Read more →


Fortune cookie tax filing wisdom (Photo by Kay Bell) If the 2024 tax-filing season is anything like previous ones, millions of taxpayers sent their 2023 taxes to the Internal Revenue Service today, the official start of federal return processing. The most obvious and common motive for first-day filing is to get expected refunds. But there are some other reasons you might want to file your taxes early. Here are eight. 1. To beat tax ID thieves to the punch. The IRS and its Security Summit partners have made good progress in recent years in reducing tax identity theft and associated... Read more →


The biggest complaint about taxes is that they're too high. A close second is that the language of taxes is hard to understand. The Internal Revenue Service can't do anything about the first one. You need to call your members of Congress to complain about tax rates. But Uncle Sam's tax collector is taking steps to make some tax communications more comprehensible. Improving intelligibility: Under the IRS' Simple Notice Initiative, the agency aims to simplify and clarify hundreds of the letters it sends annually to taxpayers. The notice redesign effort will build this year on the Paperless Processing initiative the... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich A new tax season also brings the resurgences of tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners earlier this month alerted tax professionals to watch out for a new round of filing season-related email schemes where cybercriminals pose as potential clients. Now FinCEN, the Treasury Department bureau that focuses on financial crimes, notably money laundering and terrorism, reports that there have been fraudulent attempts to obtain information from individuals and entities who may have to comply with new Corporate Transparency Act reporting requirements. Here's a look at these two schemes popping up as... Read more →


The 2024 tax filing season has started. Sorta. Eight tax software companies now are available to eligible Free File taxpayers. Some business returns can be e-filed starting Tuesday, Jan. 16. On Monday, Jan. 29, the Internal Revenue Service officially begins processing all 2023 tax returns. While this filing season is expected to be relatively smooth, some taxpayers typically encounter problems. And every year, the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) details the most annoying tax complications that we, and the IRS, face. 10 most serious taxpayers problems: Those concerns are included in NTA Erin M. Collins' 2023 Annual Report to Congress, released... Read more →


This pup looks like he's asking it it's time to open gifts. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) Next Monday morning, Dec. 25, many families will welcome a new member. I'm talking, of course, about a pet. A puppy, kitten, or other pet of any type of age can be a wonderful addition to a home. Pros and cons of pets as presents: But many animal groups and veterinarians warn against giving a pet, especially as a surprise, during the holidays. This already is a stressful time for many, and if everyone who will be involved in the... Read more →


Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash 🌟 Billions of dollars in fraud. 🌟 Victims across the globe. 🌟 🌟 Criminals who are all about personal gain. 🌟 No, that's not the opening voiceover in a trailer for a new Netflix true crime series, although I'd watch it if it were. It's from IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee's comments on his unit's top 10 cases of 2023. Those three opening elements, said Lee, are the crux of CI's biggest busts last year. "When I say our team at CI is the best at following the money trail, I mean it,"... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today wrapped up the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness Week with a warning for everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros, to stay alert to emerging tax scams. It's a message the group issues regularly throughout the year because con artists work year-round to steal our money and, in many cases, our identities. Once they get that personal data, they can file fake tax returns to try to collect fraudulent refunds. By now, most of us are well aware of the warning signs of scams... Read more →


Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash Most taxpayers get federal tax refunds. Internal Revenue Service data complete through Oct. 27 shows that the agency received 160.5 million returns and issued nearly 105 million refunds that totaled more than $319 billion. Not surprisingly, taxpayers who are getting cash back from Uncle Sam are among the first to file every tax season. That's also a good security move. By getting their 1040 forms to the IRS early, they beat the criminals who might try to file fake returns under their names to claim their or even bigger fraudulent refunds. But some folks... Read more →


Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Andrej Lišakov The official holiday shopping season is officially underway. So is the identity theft season, which could cause lots of problems for shoppers at tax time. I know about the shopping season because my email box is overflowing with "Buy Now!" and "Bargains, Bargains, Bargains" and "Get 40% Off!" messages, mostly for stuff I have no intention of buying at any price. I know about the tax threat because next week, Nov. 27 through Dec. 1, is the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness week. During these coming five days, just as online... Read more →


Things can get even more complicated if you're donating to international relief efforts and plan to claim your gift as a tax deduction. World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers are among the first in areas in need of relief, like here delivering meals with the help of nonprofit partners in Beit Shemesh, Israel. WCK staff also are already on their way to Acapulco, Mexico, where Hurricane Otis made landfall as a powerful Category 5 early today. (Photo credit: World Central Kitchen/WCK.org) Sometimes, like today, it seems as if the whole world is totally out of control. In the past few weeks,... Read more →


This summer, the Internal Revenue Service warned us of a surge of tax scams. Identity thieves were sending a barrage of email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help fix tax problems. Apparently, the scammers are continuing into the fall. Fake IRS text: I got the fake IRS text at left this week. This crook apparently was trying to convince me to click on the StatementClaim.pdf document. I was curious, but not that curious. However, I did like how the crook tried to pique my interest by annotating the fake text as an internal tax agency message.... Read more →


Remember when these types of signs were popping up across the country? Also prevalent were fraudulent efforts to get COVID-19 relief money. Federal investigations are starting to show results, with guilty pleas and convictions of those who illegally got the funds. (Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash) When I was a newspaper reporter back in Lubbock, Texas, my beats were police and courts, so I know firsthand that criminals are part of the Hub City's population. Still, I was disappointed to learn this week that a Lubbock man defrauded COVID pandemic financial programs out nearly $4 million. But I was... Read more →


What a fun Monday. The hubby and I spent much of the morning setting up free credit monitoring accounts related to recent healthcare data breaches. Then we each ordered a free credit report to see if miscreants had been pretending to be either of us. I suspect we are not alone in taking identity theft precautions. The HIPAA Journal reports there was a 261 percent month-over-month increase in breached healthcare records in July. More than 18 million records were exposed in 56 reported incidents. The incredibly high total was due to a major data breach at HCA Healthcare that saw... Read more →


Photo by Volodymyr Kondriianenko on Unsplash Summer is slipping away, but tax crooks are still hard at work. That's why the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners are spreading the word about signs of data theft. The warning from Uncle Sam and state tax officials, as well as the private sector tax community, is aimed at helping tax professionals. That's understandable, since they collect and manage clients' tax and personal data. If crooks can crack the tax pros' cache, they have what the IRS calls a precious commodity, details on thousands of taxpayers from just a few sources.... Read more →


IRS.gov Identity thieves continue to target taxpayers, but the Internal Revenue Service has given individuals a way to fight back. By using an Identity Protection Person Identification Number, or IP PIN, instead of their usual Social Security number, taxpayers can show the IRS that the IP PIN filing is the legitimate one. Even if a thief already has filed a fraudulent tax return, an IP PIN offers protection for later years, preventing taxpayers from being repeat victims of tax-related identity theft. Success of IP PINs: The IRS began allowing all taxpayers to apply for an IP PIN in January 2021.... Read more →


Summertime, despite what the song says, is not easy if you are the target of a tax scam. And that's increasingly likely this season, says the Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency is urging people to be on the lookout for a summer surge of tax scams. Identity thieves are sending a barrage of email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help fix tax problems. Neither the good (possible cash back from Uncle Sam) nor the bad (tax troubles) exist. They are just the latest ploys, targeting individual and business taxpayers, that crooks are using to try... Read more →


Photo by Mediamodifier on Unsplash Guess who's not taking a long July 4th holiday? Tax scammers. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today warned of a new scam mailing in which crooks tell the correspondence recipients that they are owed a tax refund. The fake tax mailing comes in a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. As is often the case with tax scams, the letter includes contact information and a phone number that do not belong to the IRS. The mailing tells recipients that in order to get their refund, they must provide personal information, such... Read more →


Getting a notice from the Internal Revenue Service is rarely welcome. But such correspondence could be a tax and financial lifesaver when it's about possible tax identity theft. Over the years, the IRS has made progress in reducing tax ID theft, largely because the tax agency scans every tax return for signs of fraud. If the automated system finds a suspicious tax return, the IRS reviews the filing and sends a letter to the taxpayer letting them know about the potential ID theft. The IRS won't process the suspicious tax return until it gets a response from the taxpayer. Here... Read more →